Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Samples

First published on: Monday, 6 April 2009

Last update (Feb 23, 2010): Vancouver Winter Olympus 2010 Hockey.

This page is a collection of photo samples taken with the Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens, plus related image galleries, user pictures and other examples that I’ve come across in forums, online communities, blogs and related websites.

This should help in determining if the image quality of the 100-400/4.5-5.6 L meets your expectations.

Bear in mind that the majority of these photos are re-sized, and may have gone through post-processing, retouching or other edits. I just thought that it would be interesting to see, at a glance, what Canon 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L owners and users are shooting with their lens.

Full-sized images, where available, will assist with judging the image quality.

Attribution is given by linking to the source and where available, the author’s homepage or photo gallery.

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM certainly can’t compete in the imaging department with the likes of Canon’s long telephoto fixed lenses such as the EF 400mm f/5.6L or EF 500mm f/4L, but what it has in its favor are IS (image stabilization) capability, a lighter weight (most just need to use a monopod with the 100-400, as opposed to mandatory tripod use with the 400mm or 500mm lenses) and zoom flexibility.

This lens will find a happy home with photographers who need a reasonably good, fast focusing long zoom lens and aren’t too spoiled by the (obviously) superior optical qualities of fixed telephoto lenses.

Recent updates

Vancouver Winter Olympus 2010 Hockey, Russia vs Czech Republic — Here’s a nice set of sports photos on DPReview (plus a second post) taken with the 100-400L on an EOS 50D by MathGuy314, who wrote:

These pictures were all taken at the opposite end of the arena from where we were seated so the distance was 300+ feet.

He also gives this useful piece of information:

There is no restriction on cameras or lenses at the Olympics. You simply cannot use the photos or video for commercial purposes. Security at the gate is much like an airport (put your bags on a tray to go through the x-ray machine and then walk through the metal detector). Security doesn’t give cameras (still or video) a second glance. Some spectators were bringing in large backpack style camera bags with multiple bodies and lenses.

Great Blue Heron capturing a fish

Nice action sequence in this one, photographed with the 100-400 mounted on a Canon 40D.

The full gallery is on

Gary Jacobson, the photographer, notes that compared to the Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM, the Canon 100-400 lens is more ideal for handholding, and better suited to those who require zoom flexibility.

Sandhill Cranes by MtnTrekker with a Canon 40D

MtnTrekker mounted the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom lens on an EOS 40D for this image series on Sandhill Cranes.

Miscellaneous bird pictures by Rodrigo Mendoza with a Canon 40D

Rodrigo Mendoza used the 100-400 f4.5-5.6L IS USM in combination with the 40D for this image series, taken at or near the beach on the West Coast of South Florida.

The following birds were featured in the post:

  1. Grey Plover (known as Black-bellied Plover in North America).

  2. Snowy Egret.

  3. Heron.

  4. Least Sandpiper.

  5. Brown Pelican.

Visit Rodrigo’s nature photos gallery for updates.

Great set of 100-400mm photos by Borderrose

This series of photos by Jim aka Borderrose are some of the best bird and animal photos I’ve seen shot with the EF 10-400mm lens.

All but the last two photos were taken with a Canon 1D Mark II camera, while the last two were shot with a Canon 40D.

Reach was enhanced using a Canon EF 1.4X II Extender teleconverter.

Featured in the post are:

  1. Yellow Rumped Warbler (and the reason for its name).

  2. Yellow-crowned Night Heron.

  3. Red-shouldered Hawk.

  4. Raccoon.

  5. Roseate Spoonbill.

Older entries

Romy’s Bird Photos — Romy was kind enough to share 100% crops from a couple of photos. I have to admit that the quality is surprisingly good, given that he coupled the lens to Sigma and Tamron 1.4x tele converters (not something usually done with zoom telephoto lenses having small apertures).
And the lens was wide-open too — excellent! Cameras used were the EOS 20D and Canon 1D Mark II.
If you’re a fan of avian photography, hop over to Romy’s galleries where you’ll be treated with amazing photographs of Philippine wild birds.

Romy’s Macros — Romy is back and now shows us that the 100-400mm can also double up as a closeup lens, and again, he treats us to some wonderful photography in this gallery that’s a mix of pics taken with Canon and Sigma lenses, and various EOS camera bodies.

My personal picks of EF 100-400mm samples from that gallery are: IMG9331, IMG9327, KZ2L9240 and EUREMA Butterfly.

Note that the lens is at 400mm for all the shots.

African Wildlife — Brian has three photo samples — a leopard at rest in Botswana, lion cubs and a cheetah taken in Tuli Block in Botswana.

Camera used was the Canon EOS 20D digital SLR.

The busy background in the photo of the lion cubs shows the bokeh qualities of this lens — and it’s something that’s not liked by a number of owners. You’ll need to judge for yourself if this is a major issue to you.

Birds in San Franciso Bay Area — Garrett Lau shot this with the 100-400 mounted on his Canon EOS 1D Mark III, and he remarks that he hasn’t had AF (auto focus) issues shooting bird-in-flight photos. He’s getting a higher success rate with the 1D3 compared to the 20D.
Species photographed are: Barn Swallow, Caspian Tern, Forster’s Tern, Snowy Egret.

Canon 100-400 samples on

A random gallery of images is presented each time you refresh your browser.

Some interesting pictures can be found there, for instance:

  1. Mustang race car, with a Canon 30D.

  2. Football players celebrating, with a Canon 1D Mark III.

  3. Texas Renaissance Festival 2003 portraiture gallery, examples: Portrait 1, portrait 2, portrait 3. The bokeh you get with the 100-400 seems to be quite good.

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